Letters to the Editor—Maple Leaf, April 14, 2016…

Open Letter to Wild Turkeys of Geauga County

Forewarned is forearmed. You have been warned: They will be armed.

I would like to give you a heads up that, beginning on April 16, the Geauga Park District’s latest initiative in “conserving, preserving and protecting” will once again take the form of “hunting, shooting and killing,” and this time, they have set their sights on you, the wild turkey.

Apparently you have not been on your best behavior and have crossed the boundaries into being “nuisances.”

Or, maybe it’s not that, maybe you are over-populating yourselves. Or, maybe you are eating more than your share of insects, spiders, snails, slugs, salamanders, small amphibians, millipedes, grasshoppers, very small snakes, worms, grasses, vines, flowers, acorns, buds, seeds, fruits, clovers, dogwood, blueberries, cherries, or hickory nuts.

Whatever it is, it apparently crosses an invisible line set by the GPD board, under the leadership of Executive Director John Oros, as being indicative of the need to “thin” you. So now you will be joining the distinguished company of deer, beaver, raccoons and muskrats as targets of this highly fluid, ever-changing policy and its interpretation.

This particular hunt will be a very special occasion, in that the hunters will be none other than the youth of Geauga County. That’s right, the segment of our human population who are deemed to be too immature to drive cars, drink alcohol or vote, will be aiming and discharging firearms in one or more of our Geauga County parks for the implied purpose of reducing your indeterminate numbers.

I’m afraid I don’t have much more detail about this to provide. It was announced on the GPD website as “Youth Turkey Hunting” on March 28 on the What’s New page, right between the notices about free milkweed giveaways and the nature writing contest (…).

There is an application for the youth hunter to complete along with an adult, and send to the park district. There are no published guidelines for how many youth will be participating, what criteria, if any, exist for selection, where the hunting will occur, and how many of your destructive ilk this program is attempting to “manage.” We will leave all those decisions to the infinite wisdom of John Oros, who certainly has the interests of the park’s mission and the people of Geauga County as his first and foremost priority.

Given the lack of information about this new program and its origin, and how, when and where it is to be implemented, may I suggest to you, my feathered friends, that you take to the open road beginning on April 16 and stay out of the parks.

You will no doubt be much safer on the road. Remember, we don’t issue youth driver’s licenses!

Dr. Ann Jacobson South Russell

Our Right to Enjoy Wild Turkeys

If John Oros of the Geauga County parks were executive director of the Cleveland Zoo instead of Chris Kuhar, we would see the zoo closing for a week while a select few lucky lottery winners got to shoot the lions.

Sound absurd?

Well, how about closing parks to all but a few lucky applicants so that they can hunt the turkeys that have become acclimated to human presence? Under the guise of “Wildlife Management” no less (what, have turkeys become a problem??).

Ever wonder why there aren’t nature trails and photo tours of the state game lands sprinkled around Geauga County?

Well, it might be because A, it’s not safe to mix recreational wildlife observers with hunters and B, the animals are in hiding because they have learned that the people they see kill them.

So, you can either let literally hundreds of people enjoy the encounter with a wild turkey in one of Geauga’s beautiful parks, or you can let one person take that opportunity away. You can’t do both in the same parkland.

I can’t understand why a photo club with hundreds of registered members was deemed “too exclusive on taxpayer’s park dollars” and yet a mere couple dozen lucky hunters should be allowed to permanently take human-accustomed wildlife from everyone’s enjoyment.

Aren’t we talking about those same taxpayer’s dollars?

Bruce Bennett Claridon Township

Hunting for Pure Pleasure? What’s Next?

I found it interesting the Geauga Park District is now promoting youth turkey hunting in the Geauga Park District.

With very little fanfare and no discussion at park district board meetings, the administration of the Geauga Park District has decided to open up the parks to youth turkey hunting April 16-17, 2016

In the past, the Geauga Park board and administration has encouraged deer hunting and muskrat/beaver trapping with the objective that it must be done to protect the resources of the park district from the damage of overpopulation of animals.

Now the Geauga Park District administration is opening up turkey hunting in the Geauga Park District, but without any studies to show that an overabundance of turkeys is causing damage or destruction to any part of any of the park system.

There isn’t even a study to show how many turkeys are located in the park system.

On another note, it should be stated the turkeys breeding activities peak in April and nesting periods run from mid-April through mid-June, so I am a bit ashamed that our Geauga Park District is now allowing hunting for the pure pleasure of killing an animal/bird during breeding season without considering that such animal/bird has not harmed the natural park district in any way.

More disturbing is that the GPD will either have to close various parks to everyone, but hunters during the day and/or they will allow hunters to go on GPD preserves not open to normal tax paying residents

Again, instead of being all inclusive and allow all to enjoy the Geauga Park District, are we now to assume that the Geauga Park District is to become a hunting preserve for those who want to hunt for pure pleasure?

What will be next? Squirrel, rabbit, fox, coyote?

Katherine Malmquist South Russell

Oros Doesn’t Speak for Geauga

Once again Geauga Park District Executive Director John Oros is trying to depict Protect Geauga Parks as a small group of citizens who “continue to grapple for a park system run under their extreme views.”

He cites his conversations with “many county residents” who have encouraged him to stay the course. So, how many is many? Ten, 20, 50 or even a 100? In the end, he surrounds himself with people who agree with his point of view, but they are not representative of the residents of Geauga County.

The Honorable Judge Timothy Grendell spent about $24,000 of taxpayer money to conduct his own surveys about the park. He invited people into his chambers to have a one-on-one conversation with him. Now that’s certainly not intimidating.

He didn’t tell us how many people he talked to or even summarized the consensus of opinions. He just listed some of the things that were discussed. Do those positions represent the residents of Geauga County? Of course not.

Protect Geauga Parks circulated a petition calling for the removal of Judge Grendell from office. One thousand people signed the petition. That’s not a small group of extremists. That’s a lot of people who are concerned about the direction that the judge, the board and Mr. Oros are taking this park system.

In March 2015, the park system conducted an independent survey by Triad Research Group. The cost was $9,000, or about a third of what Judge Grendell spent to talk to a few people. A total of 1,611 people responded to the survey. Triad concluded the respondents were a valid representation of Geauga County residents.

Despite numerous requests from Protect Geauga Parks for the park system to present the results to the public, they refuse to do so. That’s because it does not support their agenda.

The survey is available on the Protect Geauga Parks website under “public documents.” Read it yourself and then decide what the majority of Geauga County residents want for their parks. Only 4 percent to 5 percent of respondents were in favor of more mountain bike trails, snowmobiles, ATV trails, hunting, baseball, soccer, tennis and playgrounds.

So, why did Mr. Oros railroad through a proposal for a trial program of snowmobiles in Observatory Park, without a vote of the board? The plan was in the works for months, but he still chose to sneak it into the agenda as the last item, to the surprise of the public and a 2/3 new board. Doesn’t that look like someone trying to implement his own extreme agenda? He knew he did not have public support.

And, just last week in the Maple Leaf, the article about “Snowmobiling Success” included “Look for information about opportunities to snowmobile in Geauga Park District in the winter of 2016-2017.” He doesn’t even have board approval, yet he is already advertising next year’s program.

So, if PGP is just a small group with an extreme agenda, why is Mr. Oros so concerned about their activities? Why are members of the public only allowed to speak at the beginning of the board meeting and not after? Why have they changed the rules for public comment again so that people must sign in to speak and only the board chooses who can speak?

This may not be a violation of the law, but it certainly goes against the spirit of free speech.

The fact is, they know that the majority of the community opposes their agenda and they want to force it through regardless.

H. Dieter Sems Munson Township

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